Headlines: July 7, 2020
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Media outlets and analysts have been poring over the newly released list by the Small Business Administration of taxpayer backed Covid-19-related loans and found a lot of troubling signs. Although the Paycheck Protection Program of loans that Congress authorized saved more than 50 million American jobs, the nation’s wealthy and well-connected – who the program was not meant to benefit – got loans. According to Reuters, “The gallery of well-connected names [among loan recipients] extended deeply into the world of America’s privileged and super famous.” Among the recipients were companies owned by members of Congress and a law firm that once represented President Donald Trump, as well as elite private schools, high-value businesses with multi-million dollar investors, and dozens of publicly traded companies. The Washington Post explained that, “Nearly 90,000 companies in the program took the aid without promising on their applications they would rehire workers or create jobs.” The Wall Street Journal pointed out that investment firms and real estate developers applied for and were granted loans. An internationally known private, members-only club called Soho House & Co., which is valued at $2 billion, applied for and received 6 loans totaling $22 million. Just one month ago Soho House a $100 million investment from new and existing investors. Forbes.com shone a light on the fact that, “Vocal opponents of federal spending” such as the Ayn Rand Institute and Grover Norquist Group accepted the PPP loans backed by tax-payers.
Cases of coronavirus in the US continue to climb with a whopping quarter of a million infections recorded in the first five days of July alone. According to NBC news’ count, “Ten states have already notched record single-day highs in the number of cases since the start of the month.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said in an interview, “The current state is really not good,” and that the US was, “still knee deep in the first wave of this.” He added, “this would not be considered a wave, it was a surge, or a resurgence of infections superimposed upon a baseline… that really never got down to where we wanted to go.” Meanwhile President Trump continues attempting to put a positive spin on the massive numbers of infections and growing death toll with the White House saying the US was a “leader” in the global fight against the disease. But the only thing the US appears to be leading on internationally is the number of infections and deaths. The Washington Post reported that Trump officials, “hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking.” One former administration official explained, “They’re of the belief that people will get over it or if we stop highlighting it, the base will move on and the public will learn to accept 50,000 to 100,000 new cases a day.”
Keisha Lance Bottoms is the latest high-profile official in the US to be diagnosed with Covid-19. The mayor of Atlanta, Georgia said, “I think we were too aggressive in opening up… It was too aggressive. It was too soon. We’re paying for it not just in Georgia, but we’re paying for it across the country.” Internationally, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro has also tested positive. Bolsonaro has followed Trump’s lead in downplaying the seriousness of the virus, often refusing to wear a mask, and appeared on Monday at a press conference with a fever to announce his test results. At one point during the conference he even removed the mask he was wearing.
The case of a 17-year old Florida girl dying from coronavirus has made headlines. Carsyn Leigh Davis had a number of underlying health conditions from early childhood but attended a large church party where none of the usual precautions were taken. The teenager contracted the virus and her mother, who on social media expressed skepticism about masks, administered hydroxychloroquine to her. Trump had promoted the controversial drug but eventually the FDA warned against its use. The young girl died at the hospital after her parents initially refused to allow doctors to intubate her. In spite of cases such as this the Republican-run Florida insists that schools will reopen in the state this fall. In other Covid-19 related news, as hospitals are reaching capacity in virus hotspots, there are reports that medical personnel are once more running out of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks and gloves. Deborah Burger, President of National Nurses United said, “We’re five months into this and there are still shortages of gowns, hair covers, shoe covers, masks, N95 masks.” Meanwhile President Trump, has instead focused US taxpayer dollars on a promise to develop a vaccine at “warp speed” in order to improve his chances of reelection. He just granted a Maryland based company called Novavax $1.6 billion to develop a coronavirus vaccine even though the company has no experience bringing a finished product to market.
The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency announced that international students in the US on student visas will have to return to their home countries this fall if the schools they attend switch to entirely online education. In a news release on Monday ICE said, “The U.S. Department of State will not issue visas to students enrolled in schools and/or programs that are fully online for the fall semester nor will U.S. Customs and Border Protection permit these students to enter the United States.” The announcement caught many by surprise and impacts more than a million such students currently in the US. There is an added complication for students who face travel restrictions to their home countries.
Amy Cooper, the white woman who famously called police on a black man in New York’s Central Park in late May will finally face charges. Cooper was caught on tape feigning fear of a black man named Christian Cooper on a 9-11 call. She faces a misdemeanor charge of filing a false report. Meanwhile a black man in Indiana says he was the victim of an attempted mob lynching by a group of white people. The incident was partially recorded on video and shows the man, Vauhxx Booker, being held down on all fours while someone yelled “get a noose.” State authorities are conducting an investigation.
Mary L. Trump, a clinical psychologist who happens to be the niece of President Trump, has a tell-all book about her uncle called “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man.” The book’s publisher Simon and Schuster says the book will now be published two weeks ahead of schedule, on July 14th. Trump has claimed his niece is violating a non-disclosure order by writing the book. CNN has obtained a copy of the book and revealed that Ms. Trump considers the President a “sociopath” and that she, “can’t let him destroy my country.” She also writes that Trump once paid someone to take the SAT test for him and that another member of the family did not take Trump’s presidential bid seriously saying, “He’s a clown.” According to the book Trump helped his sister Maryanne Trump Barry get a seat as a federal judge in a New Jersey district court because he, “thought it might be useful to have a close relative on the bench in a state in which he planned to do a lot of business.”
And finally, three major oil and gas pipeline projects in the span of 24 hours were just blocked in separate cases. The US Supreme Court upheld a federal judge’s earlier decision on denying an important permit for the Keystone XL pipeline which has faced massive opposition from environmental activists for years. The Atlantic Coast pipeline was canceled altogether. And the Dakota Access Pipeline, which became the focus of mass protests in 2016 at Standing Rock in South Dakota, faces a court-ordered shutdown. A Greenpeace spokesperson hailed the myriad decisions saying, “Three dangerous pipelines delayed within 24 hours should serve as a clear warning to any companies hoping to double down on dirty fossil fuel projects.”